Category: shelter cats

Frankie Sad Eyes Has Been Adopted!

Every once in a while a cat’s story will tug at the heartstrings, and while Bud and I are mostly impervious to that sort of thing (being so manly that we dominate our emotions, obviously), we couldn’t help but become invested in the story of Frankie Sad Eyes.

The handsome 11-year-old was surrendered by his human at an age when he should have been kicking back and telling kittens what it was like Back In His Day, and his hooded blue peepers seemed to reflect his sadness at losing everything he’d known.

In my head, I imagined Frankie and Buddy teaming up, kind of a bad cop/bad cop duo who would keep the neighborhood cats on their toes and extort treats from them.

“We don’t like it when cats don’t pay their protection yums, do we, Buddy?”

“No we don’t, Frankie.”

“It would be a shame if anything were to happen to this spiffy cat condo, wouldn’t it, Buddy?”

“That’s right, Frankie. A real shame indeed.”

Alas, Frankie doesn’t get along with other cats and Bud is a bit of a jerk when he wants to be, so it could never happen. There can be only one king here.

Instead we were content to follow Frankie’s progress from afar, with the staff at Tabby’s Place in Ringoes, NJ, providing regular updates on his health and his interactions with other cats. The latter usually involved Frankie having to “educate” his peers with a stiff paw, but also some positive exchanges as well.

Still, it was clear that Frankie needed to be the only cat in his own kingdom, and staff at Tabby’s Place were able to match the mercurial moggie with a human who will dutifully attend to his needs, make sure his new realm isn’t sullied by the presence of other cats, and provide a chill environment suited to a senior cat. At heart there’s no doubt Frankie’s a good boy. He just needs his space.

Tabby’s Place said farewell to Frankie with this video of his pre-departure “victory lap,” and it was clear from the send-off he received that he’d touched a lot of hearts during his stay, even if he did smack a lot of cats too.

Good luck, dear Frankie, and take it easy on your new human, will ya? We have no doubt she’ll dote on you like the king you are.

Frankie Sad Eyes Rules With An Iron Paw

Remember Frankie, the 11-year-old cat who was surrendered by his human and looked so sad, only someone with a heart of stone wouldn’t be moved by his predicament?

Frankie Sad Eyes has been living with the good people at Tabby’s Place for the past few months, with the staff attending to a few health and behavioral issues as they look for a proper home for the little guy.

While Frankie may look sad, he’s got the spirit of a little tiger, and he’s discriminating when it comes to making friends with his own kind. Staff got him settled into the spacious Community Room at the shelter and put him on behavior medication, which helped things simmer down.

All was well “until Tabby’s Place committed a serious error, at least as far as Frankie is concerned,” Tabby’s Place staffer Stephanie wrote in a blog post.

That error? Introducing a pair of bonded cats to the Community Room. Frankie didn’t take to Ralph and S’Mores, and “developed a reputation for stalking” the latter kitty, revealing his inner predator.

Frankie Sad Eyes
The ferocious feline has piercing blue eyes and uses his glare to make sure other kitties know he’s not to be messed with. Credit: Tabby’s Place

“Things got so bad one day that a staffer put Frankie in a stroller and took him outside to be near her as she worked so S’Mores could get a break,” Stephanie wrote. “Obviously, this cannot continue. But it is not the first difficult introduction we’ve had, and we’re very lucky in that we have options. It happens not infrequently that we move cats from one area to another; sometimes felines, like people, just don’t get along, and moving one to another suite can be a simple and effective solution.”

That’s just what the staff did with Frankie, moving him to the lobby “in the hopes that this higher-energy environment will offer him a little more stimulation (and that he won’t seek “stimulation” in the form of ‘torturing one’s neighbors’),” Angela Hartley, development director at Tabby’s Place, told PITB. “There are a number of zesty cats living in the lobby, so hopefully this will be a congenial crew for Frankie.”

(Here at PITB we suspect S’Mores was quietly instigating the confrontations. Frankie could never be the aggressor. Just look at that innocent face!)

Maybe it’s the cat equivalent of getting moved from a less-eventful cell block to one where the bad boys are kept, except the “cells” are spacious rooms with lots of toys and prime lounging spots, and the staff aren’t COs, but loving employees and volunteers who do their best to keep the cats happy, knowing they’re making a major adjustment to shelter life.

Encouragingly, Frankie seemed to make a friend or two before his move, even sharing a sunny window ledge with a cat named Shelley.

While Frankie would do best as the only cat in his future home, since he doesn’t like sharing the crown, his acceptance of Shelley and a few others show he’s at heart a social animal too. He just prefers humans, perhaps because we know our place is to serve him and his kind.

Frankie Sad Eyes
The little guy boasts regal looks.

We wondered whether Frankie’s sometimes disagreeable disposition was the result of the trauma associated with losing his longtime home after 11 years.

“You know, it’s admittedly hard to speculate about Frankie’s motivations.  He’s far from the first cat we’ve welcomed to Tabby’s Place after losing their homes, and most of them are…not Frankie-esque,” Hartley told us. “I’d be more inclined to guess that he’s always been a bit of a firecracker, but having a whole peanut gallery of feline neighbors only amplifies his exuberance.”

Here’s to hoping Frankie finds his new roommates more to his liking as he waits for a human who will return his world to its rightful order by doting on him.

Potential human servants who are interested in adopting Frankie can fill out an application online. Please note Tabby’s Place is in Ringoes, NJ, about 60 miles southeast of Manhattan.

All images courtesy of Tabby’s Place.

Study: Even Experienced Caretakers Give Cats ‘Unwelcome Affection’

By chance, one of the first things I saw Tuesday in my post-wake-up browsing was a short video of three guys standing in a triangle formation, each of them with a puppy. A drum recording began, and the men began drumming an overturned pot in the middle with the puppies’ paws.

The dogs, of course, had no idea what was going on. They were confused and stressed. Then I saw this from the official TikTok page of Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Delray Beach, Florida:

That’s a veterinarian abusing a kitten.

It might not be overt abuse. She’s not hitting or screaming at the poor cat. But she’s taking a sentient being with its own feelings, likes and dislikes, comforts and discomforts, and using it as a toy for clicks and likes on social media.

I thought about that when I read the newest study from Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, which looks at the way people interact with their cats and how their behavior may or may not align with what cats prefer and what they’re comfortable with.

Although Bud and I have a deep bond formed over more than seven years of spending time together, establishing trust, mutual respect and love, he would tear my face off if I did to him what the vet tech is doing to the kitten in the above video.

And you know what? He’d be justified, once he got over the shock and wondered if I’d been replaced with a doppleganger.

The UK study involved more than 100 felines at Battersea Dogs and Cats’ London cattery, with scientists recording interactions between humans and cats via a GoPro camera in a large pen where people can interact with cats one-on-one. There were 120 human participants of various ages and from different walks of life. Each person interacted with three cats separately.

Researchers looked at whether the cat or the human initiated interaction, where the human touched the cat, whether the human restrained the cat, and the cat’s response.

They also collected information on each human participant, such as how many cats they have at home and how long they’ve been caring for felines. Human participants rated themselves on how well they know cats and how well they take care of them.

They used a system that corresponds to the below image to grade physical affection. The image is mostly self-explanatory, but to be clear, the green areas are where cats like to be touched, the yellow areas are “meh,” and the red areas are no-go zones for most cats:

greenyellowredcatareas

In earlier studies, the team established what many cat caretakers know: Allowing cats to initiate physical interactions, going easier and lighter on petting, letting cats control how long the interactions last, and avoiding any kind of restraint are “best practices” for petting cats. They reaffirmed that scratching cats under the chin, rubbing their cheeks and forehead are “the best ways to increase their affection and reduce aggression.”

That might seem obvious, but in research there’s an important distinction between knowing something (or thinking you know it) and proving it with research. It’s important to prove it, and to forgo assumptions, to produce credible and repeatable experiments.

Animal behaviorist Lauren Finka, lead author on the new study, said although the above may seem like common knowledge among experienced caretakers, that’s not always true, and it’s not always reflected in their behavior.

“Our findings suggest that certain characteristics we might assume would make someone good at interacting with cats—how knowledgeable they say they are, their cat ownership experiences and being older—should not always be considered as reliable indicators of a person’s suitability to adopt certain cats, particularly those with specific handling or behavioral needs,” Finka said.

We should point out here that these are “best practices” for establishing a healthy, trusting relationship with cats, and taking their feelings into consideration. Lots of people might force their cats to do things without much push back, but that doesn’t mean the cat is happy. No one’s perfect, and there are always things we can learn about how to do better by our furry friends.

Finka also said she hopes people who run shelters and rescues take the research into consideration. That’s because some people run into the same problems I did: When you’ve never had a cat, and/or you don’t fit the profile of what people think a “cat person” is or should be, you could encounter resistance or skepticism from shelter staff.

One volunteer at an animal shelter asked me if I was adopting a kitten for my kids or girlfriend, because it didn’t occur to her that I’d want a cat. Some shelters require references from a veterinarian, which you can’t get if you’ve never had a pet before.

“Importantly, within shelters, we should also avoid discriminating against potential adopters with no previous cat ownership experience,” Finka said, “because with the right support, they may make fantastic cat guardians.”

For us, it’s more confirmation of what we’ve always believed: The more you take your cat’s feelings into consideration, and treat the little one with the respect he or she deserves, the happier your cat and the deeper your bond will grow.

‘Guard Cat’ Helps Stop Armed Robbery

Fred Everitt woke at 2:30 a.m. to his cat’s “loud guttural meows” coming from the kitchen.

The retiree didn’t think much of it until the cat, Bandit, came running into the bedroom, leaped onto Everitt and began tugging his comforter off. Then she clawed at his arms, trying to communicate how urgent the situation was.

“She had never done that before,” Everitt said. “I went, ‘What in the world is wrong with you?’”

Bandit was trying to alert her human to the presence of two men outside — one carrying a handgun, the other trying to pry the back door open with a crowbar.

Everitt, a 68-year-old retiree, said he ran to his bedroom and retrieved his own gun after getting a look at the men through his kitchen window, but by that point the would-be robbers had either been scared off by the noise Bandit was making — and the probability that someone was awake inside — or they split to find easier pickings.

Either way, Everitt credits Bandit for preventing an armed robbery and possibly saving his life. The incident happened on July 25.

“It did not turn into a confrontational situation, thank goodness,” Everitt said. “But I think it’s only because of the cat.”

Everitt welcomed the delightfully chonky Calico into his home four years ago after he went to the Tupelo Humane Society in Tupelo, Miss., about 115 miles southeast of Memphis, Tenn. He was writing a donation check when shelter staff introduced him to Bandit. Even though he hadn’t planned on adopting a cat, Bandit came home with him and she’s been his companion ever since.

He said he’s telling his story because it’s important for people to know pets can give back to their humans.

“I want to let people know that you not only save a life when you adopt a pet or rescue one,” Everitt told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “The tides could be turned. You never know when you save an animal if they’re going to save you.”

It’s nice to know some cats are just as good as dogs when it comes to alerting their humans to potential danger. Given Buddy’s long track record of hiding behind my legs and moaning nervously when something scary happens — and the fact that he literally slept through a mouse encounter in July — I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the Budster heroically raising hell to wake me up if armed men ever tried to break in.

It’s more likely he’d watch the burglars break in without raising the alarm, and satisfied that they have no interest in the turkey pate and treats in his Buddy Food Cabinet, return to my bed to stretch, yawn and go back to sleep.

Sunday Cats: Eurasian Lynx Captured On Long Island, ‘Loneliest Cat’ Has Been Returned To Shelter Twice

The saga of a “big cat” spotted on Long Island this week has come to an end with the animal’s capture.

Authorities believe the cat is a Eurasian Lynx and was a pet who escaped or was abandoned by his owner. The frightened feline was first spotted on Wednesday in Central Islip, Long Island, a suburb that stretches for 118 miles just south of New York City.

“Scared the daylights out of me,” Diane Huwer, a self-proclaimed cat lover who was the first to encounter the lynx, told the local ABC affiliate.

The area encompasses two counties and is one of the most densely populated places in the U.S. with more than 7.6 million people. It’s one of the worst places in the world for a wild cat to be abandoned, with heavy traffic, ubiquitous environmental noise and endless shopping plazas surrounded by labyrinthine residential neighborhoods.

It’s illegal to own wild animals in New York, and the cat’s “owner” likely would have kept it without a proper enclosure to avoid attention from authorities.

The lynx’s sightings made the headlines in the New York papers, as well as coverage by local TV news and online publications. It went viral on social media, with users trying to determine what kind of cat it was from the handful of blurry photos witnesses were able to snap. Some media coverage suggested it was a true big cat. (Here at PITB, we thought it was possibly a Savannah cat or an American lynx.)

lynxleonardo
Authorities said the Eurasian Lynx was clearly socialized and wasn’t aggressive when they finally caught him. Credit: SPCA

Local authorities searched fruitlessly for three days and were about to give up early Saturday morning when someone spotted the wild cat in a residential neighborhood and called police.

The hungry feline was pawing through garbage cans next to a house in Central Islip. Authorities said the young lynx was friendly and socialized to humans.

“He was rubbing his face on the cage, looked like he was a friendly cat and from the tips we’ve gotten,” Frankie Floridia of Strong Island Animal Rescue said. “It seems these people have had him since he was a baby.”

Veterinarians have named the lynx Leonardo de Catbrio and said he’s about a year old. Despite his ordeal, the 40-pound cat was not malnourished or dehydrated, and the vets who gave him a check-up said he’s in good health. They’re waiting on lab results to confirm his species.

“Someone obviously had it as a pet,” the SPCA’s Roy Gross told Newsday. “These are wild animals, not the type of animals anyone should have. … They don’t belong in captivity this way.”

In the meantime, police, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the SPCA are looking for Leonardo’s “owner,” who faces misdemeanor charges and a fine of up to $1,000 if he or she is convicted. They’re sure to have questions about how the person acquired a wild cat, let alone a non-native species. It’s been illegal to “import” wild animals since the Wildlife Act of 1976, and the illegal wildlife market has been a scourge on law enforcement and conservationists alike.

“I know everybody wants something that’s exotic,” Gross said. “They want something cool. It’s not cool.”

Header image of Eurasian Lynx courtesy of Pexels

A lonely cat in the UK needs a forever home

Eleven is a silver tabby who’s been returned to the shelter twice by would-be adopters, and staff at the shelter are appealing to the public to find her a forever home with patient humans.

The four-year-old with bright green eyes has been with Battersea Cats and Dogs in south London since April. Her rescuers say she takes a while to adjust to new surroundings, and they believe that’s why Eleven was returned twice within days. If Eleven’s failed adopters had been more patient, shelter staff said, they would  have discovered she’s a loving lap cat once trust is established.

Eleven the Cat
Eleven the Cat takes a while to warm up to new people. Credit: Battersea Cats and Dogs

They hope to place her in an “understanding home” with people who “will give her the time and space to settle in, as she would be a wonderful addition to a home.”

“Eleven needs her own space when she’s settling in, so she can hiss and swipe if pushed into interactions that she is not ready for,” a shelter spokesman told the Mirror. “She expects respect, but once given she will reward you with plenty of love. She is a super clever cat, who enjoys learning and she will sit on command for a treat of course.”